Parks and Eats, or A Parent’s Guide to Surviving Cold-Weather Playgrounds with Coffee


According to government health guidelines, Canadians of all ages need to get more active. For kids, this should be 60 minutes per day of energetic swinging, walking, running, chasing and jumping – the kind of activity they can get up to at a local playground.

Unfortunately it’s now winter, so how do parents cope with kid-friendly activity sessions in the local playground during the winter without freezing or having to join in on the monkey bars themselves?

Help is somewhat at hand in this handy but admittedly limited guide to local parks and eats – a consumer guide to playgrounds with handy coffee stops. Let’s face it, watching the umpteenth game of real life Super Mario isn’t so bad as an observer when you have your hands round a steaming cuppa Joe.

Town Centre Park (1299 Pinetree Way – map)

Playground Stats

Coquitlam’s Town Centre park has plenty of space for running around. It also has an impressive and accessible playground with age-appropriate climbing environments. And there’s a giant sandpit if you venture into the beach volleyball area. There’s also an outdoor exercise trail with some easy-to-use equipment – fun if you have an older kid who likes to laugh while mom or dad tries to stay fit. You will have difficulty getting your child away because it is so much fun.

Caffeinated?

town centre park concessionWell – there’s a concession stand nearby at Percy Perry Stadium, but when my son and I visited one weekday afternoon it was shuttered and no opening hours were posted.

It’s not all bad though. If you want to combine your playground trip with returning library books or taking an exciting walk over Pinetree on the pedestrian overpass, why not pop into Tim Hortons in Douglas College’s David Lam Campus or Caffe Divano at City Hall?

Tim Hortons, good for Timbits and home to traditional Canadian coffee, is open 7:00am to 6:30pm. It’s just inside the David Lam main building atrium so you won’t get lost.

Caffe Divano is further down Pinetree on the way to the new City Centre library branch. It’s on Burlington Drive, on the same block as City Hall and close to Spirit Square with its red eggs and salmon river. The café serves a delicious selection of home baking, as well as that important giant takeout of coffee. It’s also good for kid hot chocolates, mocha coffee, assorted teas and those überaddictive oreo cookies. The new expanded seating area means there’s plenty of space for all. Come in and warm up!

Port Moody Rec Centre (300 Ioco Road – map)

Playground Stats

There is a smallish climbing frame with a wobbly bridge between two mini towers in an enclosed area near the ice rink entrance. The Rec Centre is also handy for parking near the Inlet Trail if you have a daring cyclist-in-training, with or without training wheels.

Caffeinated?

Well … again there is a concession inside the Rec Centre but when is it open? According to one Rec Centre staff member, no one knows when it will be open. Your best bet is go to the playground around skate times, but even then it’s iffy. There are no opening hours posted – a big disappointment.

Rec Centre staff admit to pointing people towards Newport Village, only a few minutes stroll away, where you can grab-and-go from Gallaghers Café, Starbucks or Casa Dolce. Another good watering hole is SOKO Tea House if leaf is your beverage of choice – tea and lattes to go.

Rocky Point Park (2800 Murray Street – map)

Playground Stats

Rocky Point Park has an inspiring wooden pirate ship complete with climbing poles, gangplank, slides and multi-level clambering standing alongside traditional swings and ride-on rockers. It’s sited near the washrooms and close to the parking lot. There’s also the rest of the park for running around.

Caffeinated?

A resounding yes! and within easy strolling distance of the playground.

rocky point ice cream concession coffeeHit up Rocky Point Ice Cream for their tasty selection of hot beverages. This popular summer café is also open during the winter from 10am to 10pm, serving a range of hot drinks including Americanos and lattes to wrap your hands around. Admittedly this is an ice cream parlour so you may feel a little chilled looking into the freezers, but the coffee is excellent, the baked goods are tasty and this is the chance to feed your kids ice cream without it running down their arms.

Another idea is to pop in after play to warm up in The Boathouse where you can sit in a booth in the lounge area or out on the covered patio. Brunch, including a kids option, is served until 2:00pm every day though lunchtimes can get quite busy according to bar staff. The full menu is available in addition to bar snack staples such as yam fries, thai crabcakes, calamari and popcorn shrimp. Visit during Appy Hour, 3:00-6:00pm Monday to Friday, and order delights such as shrimp potstickers, surf ‘n’ turf satay sticks or miso halibut bites. A truly luxurious reward for all that physical exercise.

… and their martini list is quite impressive (just sayin’).

Did we miss any? Leave a reply and let us know!

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